I was driving through the Karoo on October 29 when State President Zuma came onto RSG, talking about how South Africa was finally going to get Aids under the knee and moerit. Excellent speech until Zuma came to the bit where he explained why the war against this disease now had to be tackled with utmost urgency. Aids, said he, had caused a dumbfounding 32 percent surge in registered deaths in 2008, with 183,000 more South Africans dying than in the year before. I was so shaken I nearly crashed the car.
You must understand that I have a lot at stake here. Nine years ago, an American magazine offered me a small fortune to write the inside story of president Thabo Mbeki's descent into Aids madness. I schemed the easiest way to demonstrate Mbeki's stupidity was to confirm claims regarding our Aids death rate, then supposedly running at 250,000 a year. But the more I looked at that number, the shakier it seemed. A quarter million deaths was more deaths in a single year than every war we South Africans ever fought amongst ourselves and against foreigners. The only evidence of catastrophe on that scale was to be found in the computer-modelled estimates put out by the Aids industry.
I wasn't exactly pleased by this discovery, because it ruined my story, but what can you do? I wound up writing a series of articles questioning the accuracy of Aids estimates everywhere in Africa, thereby earning myself a global harvest of hatred and ridicule. Like Mbeki before me, I got savaged so badly by the massed Aids activists that I eventually had to quit the battlefield and seek refuge in Boeremusiek.
In time, however, the tide turned. After 2000, South African researchers quietly eased the United Nations out of the picture, replacing their hysterical estimates with numbers that were far more credible. Elsewhere in Africa, scientists and journalists took a closer look at some of the issues I'd raised, often with startling results. The Washington Post reported that Rwanda - once held to be ‘the fountain of death' in the global Aids pandemic - had never been stricken by deaths on the predicted scale. The Lancet found that Uganda's miraculous victories in the war on Aids were largely a myth created by activists eager to show at least one success for the billions spent on Aids prevention. The British Medical Journal reported that Aids was responsible for as little as three percent of global mortality, yet was receiving 25 percent of the funding. ‘Billions are being wasted," said the BMJ, sounding just like me five years earlier.
Emboldened by these developments, I decided to include my Aids heresies in a new book, along with a postscript saying, hey, check this, I am not after all a lone madman. Then on the very eve of publication, Zuma came out with those shocking numbers - a mortality surge of 32 percent in a single year! It looked as though the Aids apocalypse so long predicted had finally arrived, and that I'd just made a huge fool of myself.
But experience has taught me to be sceptical of Aids claims. The more I looked at Zuma's number, the more dubious it seemed. Aids researchers don't talk to me, but the handful willing to play Deep Throat agreed entirely. I mean, check the data on StatsSA's website. All available evidence shows that our death rate started stabilizing after the widespread introduction of ARVS, and is now showing a slight decline. None of the experts knew where Zuma's number came from, but they all believed it was a mistake that would soon be rectified. Not so. Zuma's speech made headlines around the world. A week later, there were more headlines when Health Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi repeated the horror statistic. Still no reaction from the Aids industry.